The value of taking in these plays

Since moving to Minnesota in 1969, I have missed few seasons at the Guthrie, and have wandered now and then into some of the other theaters. Never — well, hardly ever — have I been disappointed (“Guthrie’s first loss in 19 years,” Dec. 10, and “Was it the leg room? The language?” Readers Write, Dec. 12).

In truth, many of us live an easy life. We have shelter, food, clothing, heat and some money somewhere on which we can depend. These gifts make going to the theater possible for us.

Why do I go? An elderly widow, I enjoy the opportunity to, for a brief time, enter the lives of others and share their ups and downs. With a willing suspension of disbelief, I am there with them as they live out these pieces of their lives. And I take a great deal home with me that has the possibility to make some changes in my world as well.

Having lived with teenagers, I find there is little language on stage that I’ve not heard.

My curiosity will keep me in the audience. I hope this is true for many.

MARIE VOGL GERY, Northfield, Minn.



A change is needed in board leadership

In the Nov. 25 issue of the New Yorker, Alex Ross writes:


“The formidable Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä, who had been working wonders as Minnesota’s music director, resigned on October 1st, after a yearlong labor dispute. … [T]he management had stooped to ruthless union-busting tactics, going so far as to buy up Internet domain names that could be used to support the musicians. … George Mitchell, the Northern Ireland peacemaker, tried to mediate a compromise: the musicians accepted his proposal, but the M.O.A. rejected it. … The swift plunge of this magnificent orchestra looks to be one of the most flagrant cases of mismanagement in the recent history of American classical music.”


Everyone (but the orchestra board) demands new leadership. It has been clear for over a year that the board wants a smaller, cheaper orchestra. But we already have a great smaller orchestra — the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra — and 32 good smaller civic orchestras. Our only hope to save our great symphony is to have the state step in to oust the ineffective board leadership (“Ten legislators call for new leadership at orchestra,” Dec. 11).




Here are a couple more important programs

The staff of Minnesota TRIO read the Dec. 4 editorial about College Possible and Project SUCCESS and applauds these homegrown college access programs. However, we want to draw readers’ attention to federally funded TRIO programs like Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search, both of which have a proven history of assisting low-income and first-generation students in accessing higher education since their inception in 1964. Project Success and College Possible are modeled after these innovative TRIO programs. There are 14 High School Upward Bound and five Educational Talent Search programs serving 3,270 students at approximately 20 junior high and high schools in the metro area alone, annually. These college-access programs provide tutoring, academic advising, ACT preparation, information on financial aid, visits to area colleges, and free college courses through Summer Bridge programs.

Because of these worthwhile services, program data shows that high school graduation rates and college attendance for students participating in TRIO programs exceeds both the state and national average. However, as a result of sequestration, hundreds of students across the metro area lost services due to shrinking budgets; fewer students are being served today than were a year ago. As we near our 50th anniversary, TRIO programs continue to guide students through high school completion while providing a vital pipeline to college access and success. TRIO staff, many who share the same first-generation and low-income backgrounds as the students served, are committed to student success and are working diligently to ensure that Minnesota students continue to have access to services.

Dory Pohl; president, Minnesota TRIO



Surprisingly, it’s in the shadows

For those of us who fight lung cancer and advocate for families hurt by the disease, the Dec. 10 article “Not all lung tumors deadly” came as a welcome surprise. “Welcome” because this disease has been hidden in the shadows for far too long and has earned its avoidable title as deadliest cancer because of its relative obscurity in society. “Surprise” because it isn’t often that major newspapers highlight this disease, even though it seems like news to those of us who watch excellent people, smokers and nonsmokers, die of lung cancer at alarming rates.

One correction: While it’s true that more than 200,000 Americans are diagnosed with lung cancer each year (3,000 Minnesotans), it is an understatement to say more than half of them die. The current five-year survival rate is around 16 percent.



The writer is executive director of A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation.